THE Omar family’s local community is in shock after the death of their neighbour.

Ibrahim Omar’s neighbours desperately tried to rescue him after they discovered his house was on fire.

Lillian Taylor, aged 58, has lived next door to Mr Omar and his family in Gladstone Street, for more than 20 years.

She said: “He was such a great guy, a lovable person. I just can’t believe what has happened. My kids and his kids grew up together and they were just a lovely family. They would always give us presents at Christmas and on Wednesday afternoon I saw him and he came round with some food for us.”

Mrs Taylor said she was “heartbroken” for Mr Omar’s family and added: “We just want to tell the family that everybody is thinking of them at this terrible time and anything that we can do to help them we will do.”

Mrs Taylor and her husband John have been unable to return to their house since the blaze as it is believed it has caused structural damage to both properties.

The couple have stayed at their son’s home and Mrs Taylor said she was worried they would not be able to return.

“I just don’t know yet what is happening, they are still investigating and I am waiting to be told,” she said.

Her neighbour Amanda Whiteside, who dialled 999 and tried to rescue Mr Omar, said she was “gutted” she could not save him.

“I wasn’t a hero, I just did what anybody would have done but I just wish I could have got in to help.

“My heart goes out to them. His wife was on the ground in floods of tears. They were a lovely couple.

“It is so hard to believe, you see these things in the paper and on the news and never think they will happen to you,” she said.

Another neighbour Zahidah Sattar said: “It is such a tragedy. They seemed like such a nice family. I can’t believe this has happened. You never think it will happen to you,” she said.